Acceptance of private street has rough patches

The New Prague City Council had some rough going concerning a request that a private street, the 1400 block of Jillian Street, become a public street during the council’s Monday, Oct. 21, meeting. The council unanimously agreed to table the request with more information to be gathered.

            There were 21 people at the meeting, many with the Classic Cottages Homeowners Association, which had submitted a petition at the council’s September 3 meeting to accept the street. At that meeting the council authorized staff to develop recommendations regarding the petition.

            Planning Director Ken Ondich informed the council city staff discussed the petition. While similar to the petition to accept another private street, Village Street, as public, there are some unique aspects to Jillian Street. Among them is that a water line is located under the north curb of Jillian Street and the width of the street is narrower than the city’s public streets. Ondich said future work on the water line would result in extra costs due to its location. The width of the street could also result in excessive snow being pushed to one side of the street or the other when the city snowplows. The association currently has a private individual snowplow the street.

            The acceptance of the 1400 block of Jillian would likely result in a petition to accept the 1500 block of Jillian Street, which has a 90 degree turn and would be impossible to maneuver through with the city’s standard snowplow equipment.

            Also, if Jillian Street became public, it would turn all the southern properties into double frontage lots. This means sheds and other items would have to be setback by 30 feet, instead of the current six feet setback.

            Ondich noted that in 2001 the city accepted Jillian Street as a private street, but since 2011 the city no longer accepts private streets.

            Ondich said due to the negative impacts to properties because of the increased setbacks, the added future expenses for the water main line and snow plowing difficulties, city staff recommended not accepting the street as a public road.

            There were also cost estimates if Jillian Street was dedicated as a public street, which were a total of $9,259.

            Jillian Street residents and those houses that abut the street addressed the council, voicing their concerns. Ted Jacobson said his biggest concern was the loss of his backyard. Due to the setbacks a shed would have to be tucked in close to a deck or the house.

            Pat Flynn asked what was the definition of a private street, since everybody used their street, but the association was paying for it.

            City Administrator Mike Johnson said the association could decide who uses the street. Council member Pat Scripture suggested a barrier could be put up. Flynn said she would not like that idea, as it was not neighborly.

            Chuck Nytes said he didn’t abut Jillian Street, but was part of the association. He said there were possible discrimination issues since the city had already accepted one private street with utility problems. "We pay taxes and we have to pay for our own seal coating and snow plowing," he said, adding it’s not fair. What they would like is a fair consideration.

            Mayor Chuck Nickolay asked if Village Street had everyone signed up to accept the road as public. Johnson responded that the homeowners’ association on Jillian Street doesn’t own the entire area that would be affected.

            Council member Shawn Ryan asked if they could work out a variance that would allow residents in that area the use of their yards. Ondich replied they could do variances when each resident comes forward. He didn’t know if it could be done pre-emptively.

            Mayor Nickolay thought they needed more information before they made a decision. He made a motion they table the issue until the council’s Monday, Nov. 18, meeting, which was approved.